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26 January 2012 @ 11:24 pm
Yes, this is about Achilles and Patroclus.

AsphodelCollapse )

Inspired by Iliad 22.387-389 and Book 11 of the Odyssey.
19 December 2011 @ 08:56 am
Catherynne M. Valente finally blogged something I agree with!

And in a literary world where everyone and their aunt adores Austen and writes pastiches, homages, fan fiction, and stories set in Austen-analogues, I sometimes feel alone, out on the moors in a black dress with my blind lover and a burning house insisting that Bronte is where it’s at, always, forever, I am not Lizzie Bennett and never was, I have been Jane and Cathy and Heathcliff in my heart since I was a child.

Yes! Oh my god! Absolutely! Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are very darling books which I like very much, but Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are hands-down my two favorite 19th century novels, and definitely both somewhere near the middle of my top ten favorite novels in all of history. Much like Catherynne M. Valente, I have never been at all like Lizzie Bennet. The Austen character I identify with most is Marianne, because she has Strong Opinions about poetry and art and those opinions are Important to her and she spews violent emotions wildly in every direction. But at the end of of the novel, she decides that she really needs to calm down and marry the nice sensible guy. Which is fine. But it totally pales in comparison to Cathy sticking her head out the window in the middle of a storm and screaming, "Oh, I'm burning! I wish I were out of doors! I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy and free, and laughing at injuries, not maddening under them! Why am I so changed?...I'm sure I should be myself were I once among the heather on those hills!" And then she DIES, because she made the mistake of marrying a nice, sensible man, and they made each other miserable

But okay, apparently Catherynne M. Valente is currently working on--wait for it--A GONDAL STORY. Gondal being the imaginary fantasy kingdom that the Brontes made up when they were kids, and which Emily Bronte wrote most of her (awesome and largely ignored by almost everyone) poetry about.  I AM SO EXCITED I CAN'T EVEN DEAL WITH IT. THIS COULD BE SO AMAZING.

Or it could be completely awful. If she did it wrong I would cry. A lot.

But we'll see. 

One thing, though--she says, and most of the comments say, that she wishes she'd had someone to make up imaginary worlds with as a child. I don't get this at all. My primary amusement as a child was making up imaginary worlds, but I never wanted to tell ANYONE about them EVER. Not adults. Not other kids. Not even other kids who were my very good friends. They were private. They were secret. They were mine. Whenever anyone tried to get me to play any kind of make-believe game with them, I'd get intensely embarrassed, like they were trying to make me take my clothes off or something. This makes me sound like kind of a headcase, but there you go.  
02 November 2011 @ 09:24 pm
I sustained a minor head injury today while biking to class. Basically I wasn't paying attention and I crashed into someone while trying to turn left, with the result that I fell off my bike and hit my head on the pavement. This hurt like fuck and I bled all over myself. Because being a dumbshit college student, I wasn't wearing a helmet. There was literally blood dripping out of my hair and smeared all over my face. Obviously head wounds bleed a fuck ton even if they aren't serious, but this was still kind of terrifying. Also, I was in intense pain and felt like my brain was possibly oozing out of my skull, so I was pretty much freaking the fuck out. A kindly spectator called 911 and I was taken to the hospital by paramedics who were not REMOTELY as hot as the ones who showed up in Barcelona when I fainted at the top of La Pedrera. Then after a little while I calmed down and a nurse wiped some of the blood off of me, and everyone figured out that I wasn't dying. Fortunately, I turned out not to have a concussion or anything, but I missed four classes and my favorite skirt and coat now have massive bloodstains on them. It was not my best day. 

Also, every time I try to clean the blood out of my hair, the cut reopens and bleeds more, making my efforts futile. They couldn't give me stitches because it's really more of a scrape than a cut apparently, which means that I'm just going to be stuck with bloody hair for the next couple of days. Awesome. 

In other news, I just finished reading The Bone Key by Sarah Monette. Imagine my horror when I discovered that the protagonist is an extremely tall, socially awkward man with prematurely white hair who really likes books. (Also, he likes dudes. Duh. This is Sarah Monette.) 

THIS ONE IS NOT MY FAULT. I can't be accused of plagiarizing a book I've never read. But like, WHAT IS HAPPENING? AM I BRAIN TWINS WITH THIS WOMAN? 

In the unlikely event that my novel is ever published, everyone is going to think that it is some sort of giant Sarah Monette crossover fanfic. Maybe I should just give up and add some telepathic wolf orgies to complete the set. 
20 October 2011 @ 11:10 pm
I just read the first two volumes of Age of Bronze. Um...well...Eric Shanower obviously did do a lot of research. He really tries hard to include all the super obscure details of Trojan War mythology that most people are totally unaware of, like Theseus kidnapping Helen and Agamemnon killing Clytemnestra's first husband. And the art is sexily accurate to bronze age Mediterranean archaeology. Achilles has a BOAR TUSK HELMET. I fucking love boar tusk helmets. And all the men wear those super attractive Minoan kilt things. 

Also, there is Achilles/Patroclus. So, you see, I really WANT to like it. 

The problem is that the dialogue is fucking terrible. Like, really bad. The characters all sound like they're in a modern soap opera.

Exhibit A:

Achilles: Is that you Patroclus?
Patroclus: Yes. Achilles?
Achilles: Yes. What are you doing out here? 
Patroclus: It's too hot to sleep. And I've been thinking...
Achilles: About what?
Patroclus: Well...about leaving Skyros. 
Achilles: Leaving! Why? You can't go!
Patroclus: Achilles, the way Lycomedes looks at me...and Deidamia, she's so...Look, you know as well as I do that no one wants me to stay.
Achilles: I do! I...
Patroclus: What?
Achilles: I, uh...
Patroclus: WHAT?
*Achilles kisses him*

So, +100 points for Achilles and Patroclus making out, but -1,000,000 for having them sound like a couple of college bros trying to decide whether or not to stay the weekend in Tahoe. I mean, possibly I'm overreacting because I spend a lot of time reading heroic speeches in dactylic hexameter, but I find this unpleasantly jarring.   

Also, Achilles' hair color is wrong, which is bizarre considering the level of accuracy otherwise. I'm not going to lie, Mr. Shanower's Achilles with long dark is pretty attractive. In fact, he looks a lot like the Prince of the Lilies fresco, which is what I'm guessing his character design is based on. But Achilles' hair is supposed to be REDDISH-GOLD. This is not a difficult fact to discover. The whole point of calling him Pyrrha when he was disguised as a girl was because his hair is the color of fire (pyr in Greek). Not that Achilles' hair color is like a deal-breaker for me, it's just a weird mistake.  

Something that actually bothers me about the plot on a thematic level is the total removal of the gods from the action. In Mr. Shanower's own words:

I've gone so far as to shove the gods offstage--not an original move on my part in retelling this story, it's been in and out of fashion for centuries--but a decision which I think is relevant to this twenty-first century world where so many are quick to look beyond themselves for answers or to assign blame. I've chosen to downplay the supernatural element in order to emphasize the human element.

Please excuse me while I vomit into this trashcan. Again, this is just me, but I find the interaction between divine and mortal identities to be one of the most compelling and profound parts of the Iliad. The tragedy and the beauty of human life are actively exemplified by being shown in opposition to the immortal existence of the gods. Because the gods live forever, none of their actions have irrevocable consequences. When Aphrodite cheats on her husband, the result is some temporary hilarious embarrassment for her and Ares. But when Helen does the same thing, thousands of people die fighting in a epic war. And because the gods have nothing to risk, nothing they do ultimately matters one way or the other. Therefore, although human life is filled with pain, misery, and death, it is humans and only humans who can attain heroic glory, because they have everything to lose. 

Also, I like fate as a plot device. No one does Inevitable Tragic Destiny like the Greeks.  

But apparently Mr. Shanower does not agree. Well, whatever. 
12 October 2011 @ 11:23 am
Remember how in Troy they made Achilles and Patroclus cousins and everyone was like "this is a lame cop-out to make them seem less gay"?

Well, they are actually cousins. Or rather, cousins once removed. Achilles' paternal grandfather's mother is Patroclus' father's mother. If that makes any sense. Basically there was this girl named Aegina that Zeus had sex with, the result of which was that she gave birth to a half-divine son named Aeacus (Achilles' grandfather), and also had an island named after her. Then she married a dude named Actor and had a totally human son named Menoetius (Patroclus' father). And then Patroclus' father and Achilles' father were totes bros because they were on the Argo together. 


And then according to one version of the story, Patroclus' mother is also Peleus' daughter, making Achilles his uncle. But that's...um...super weird. 
29 September 2011 @ 09:04 am
Apparently someone has just written a novel about the epic love story of Achilles and Patroclus. I was going to write this novel! ME! It was going to be my magnum opus after getting a PhD and being a Classics professor for like 20 years, when I would know ALL THE THINGS about Ancient Greece and be able to do it perfectly! 

But this woman Madeleine Miller has beaten me to it. Of course, the fact that she's written it doesn't mean no one else can EVER write about the same characters again. Right, like, how many novels about King Arthur are there in the world? A THOUSAND. And most of them are bad and repetitive. 

But what if this novel about Achilles and Patroclus is really WELL-WRITTEN and POPULAR and EVERYONE READS IT and it becomes like, the DEFINITIVE NOVEL about Achilles and Patroclus?

That would be really upsetting because I'm pretty sure Madeleine Miller has DONE IT WRONG. I can't be sure without reading the book (which I will probably have to  do even though that will involve ordering it from the UK because ACHILLES AND PATROCLUS) but the Amazon reviews are not promising. 

Cut for extensive rantingCollapse )

You know what, fuck this shit. I'm going to go write Achilles/Patroclus fanfic according to my interpretation of the text. Because no one else is going to do it for me. 
06 September 2011 @ 04:28 pm
Of course I do not deny, for I feel strongly, the fascination of the desire to unravel the intricately knotted and ramified history of the branches on the Tree of Tales. It is closely connected with the philologists’ study of the tangled skein of Language, of which I know some small pieces. But even with regard to language it seems to me that the essential quality and aptitudes of a given language in a living monument is both more important to seize and far more difficult to make explicit than its linear history. So with regard to fairy stories, I feel that it is more interesting, and also in its way more difficult, to consider what they are, what they have become for us, and what values the long alchemical processes of time have produced in them. In Dasent’s words I would say: “We must be satisfied with the soup that is set before us, and not desire to see the bones of the ox out of which it has been boiled.” Though, oddly enough, Dasent by “the soup” meant a mishmash of bogus pre-history founded on the early surmises of Comparative Philology, and by “desire to see the bones” he meant a demand to see the workings and the proofs that led to these theories. By “the soup” I mean the story as it is served up by its author or teller, and by “the bones” its sources or material—even when (by rare luck) those can be with certainty discovered. But I do not, or course, forbid criticism of the soup as soup.

--J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories
04 September 2011 @ 10:42 am
Reasons to watch Torchwood: Miracle Day

1) John Barrowman is hot, gets naked.

2) Gwen apparently blows a lot of shit up and punches a lot of people in the face.

Reasons not to watch Torchwood: Miracle Day

1) The premise is stupid.

2) Russell T Davies is a nihilistic, egotistical sack of shit.


I think my time would be better spent eating a sandwich.
03 September 2011 @ 08:24 pm
Today, my dad walked into the living room and saw me lying on the couch reading Greek Homosexuality by K.J. Dover. He said, "Do you want to hear about the nightmare I had last night? I dreamed I was about to have a homosexual encounter with Brad Pitt. Luckily I woke up before anything happened."

I was like, "Dad, I can't believe you classify sex with Brad Pitt as a NIGHTMARE."

And he was like, "Yeah, it was the third nightmare I had in a row, too. In the fist one, I dreamed that your mother drove to San Francisco, trashed the car, and then filled the passenger seat with rotting fruits and vegetables. In the second dream, someone was digging a grave behind our house, but the coffin was really wide and flat, not like the shape of a human body. And THEN I had the dream about Brad Pitt. And I was like, fuck, this shit is too weird, I have to get up."


My father, ladies and gentlemen.
03 August 2011 @ 10:45 pm
 People keep telling me that my Classical Education will help me get a good score on the GRE. Let's test this, shall we? Here are some GRE vocab words (courtesy of the list compiled by The Princeton Review) which I have been able to define using my knowledge of Classical etymology/culture.

axiom—something that is worthy
hyperbole—something you throw over something else
halcyon—a woman who got turned into a kingfisher
obdurate—what Catullus wishes he was
pedagogy—protecting the virtue of hot teenage boys from lecherous older men
intractable—not able to be dragged
hubris—injuring or humiliating others for one’s own gratification
laconic—how they do things in Sparta
pragmatic—having to do with stuff/things
circumspect—looking around in a circle
epicure—someone who believes that there is no life after death, so therefore you should just get drunk with your friends. Also, everything is made of atoms. 
idyllic—reminiscent of some poems by Theocritus
impugn—to punch someone, probably in the face
meretricious—pertaining to prostitutes

Obvs all of these definitions are 100% correct and accurate.